Along with the growing number of genuine online high schools, the number of diploma mills is also increasing. So, students and parents need to be extra-cautious at the time of evaluating various factors altogether. They need to start with the status of accreditation of the online high school.
Factors to consider at the time of choosing an ideal online high school:
The online high school should have a recognized accreditation. Else, do not go for it. As simple as that! You need to be careful here. It is true that there are some acceptable programs that only have state approval. However, this approval needs to include oversight and is not just a license to do business. You can find recognized accreditors at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Go ahead and do your research well.
History and reputation
There are many online schools that come and go. When you make a smart choice by going for a school that has been around for longer, it can help you avoid the trouble of trying to transfer schools at a later date.
You should find out as to how long has the school been offering instruction in any manner and how long has it been offering an online course. You should be aware that there are distance learning high schools that have been in existence for over a hundred years. However, these have been offering online courses for fewer years than that.
Opportunities to communicate well with teachers and peers
Communication with teachers and peers is of paramount importance in the online learning environment. After all, there is no face-to-face interaction involved here. So, unless you express your queries yourself, no teacher can figure out that you are going through some issues. Online high schools usually offer a variety of contact possibilities. Make sure to find schools that fit your learning objectives and pattern.
Reasonable overall cost
Usually, every online program is different and so is the cost. On an average, this can vary from free to $1000 a year or more. While in some cases, the higher the cost, the better is the quality of the education provided. However, it might not be the case always. Make sure that you just do not make a decision solely based on the cost factor. You will need to research well if you wish to find an online program that suits your budget without having you compromise on the quality of the education you wish to receive. Be relaxed since there are certain quality programs at affordable rates.
Majority of the online private schools charge tuition by the semester. Public programs may provide classes free of charge. However, the latter requires parents to pay for expenses such as computers, software, and internet connections. Consider asking about additional charges for curriculum, technology fees, graduation fees, and all other expenses. Additionally, ask about discounts, scholarships, and payment programs.
Keep in mind that when you study at an accredited online high school, colleges will highly regard your high school diploma and will readily accept it. But, if it is non-accredited, then the chances of acceptance are pretty low. So, try not to take any risk when it involves your time, money, energy and career. Do not overlook the red flags at the time of looking at an online high school.
Try to look into the online high school’s graduation track record. When a large percentage of students drop out, you might want to reconsider. Be aware that certain types of schools always have a smaller number of graduates.
Keep a record as to how many students went on to college. In case you are determined to go to a good college, choose an online high school that sends a lot of its graduates to college. Make sure to ask about services such as college counseling, SAT preparation, and admissions essay assistance. Do it beforehand.
Find just the right online program
Keep in mind that there are four types of online high schools overall. These include private schools, public schools, charter schools, and university-sponsored schools. Try to be familiar with these school types. It will help you sort through your options.
An online high school that is regionally accredited will have the highest degree of acceptance when it comes to getting into a good college or job. Diplomas and credits from regionally accredited schools are usually accepted by colleges and secondary schools. There are some colleges and high schools that may also accept national accreditation. Try to be vigilant and beware of unaccredited and diploma mill schools. These programs will take your money, leaving you with an inferior education and a diploma of zero value.
Which curriculum to go for?
Your online high school needs to have a time-tested curriculum that caters to your academic needs. Try to ask about additional programs such as special education, college prep, or advanced placement.
Do a background check on the training and qualifications of the teachers. Try to be wary of online high schools that hire teachers without a college diploma or teaching experience. Keep in mind that teachers should be credentialed.
When a teacher is assigned too many students, he may not have time for one-on-one help. So, it is very important for the student to find out what the student-teacher ratio is for most classes. You should ask if there is a better ratio for a prominent subject like math and English.
You should know whether any additional help is available for struggling students. If you yourself are struggling, you need to know that help is available. You should ask about tutoring and individual assistance. You should ask whether there is an extra charge for additional help.